Saturday, May 2, 2020
The long wait
Not much later , I moved my shop from my garage to a place across town that was pretty close to my friend's workshop/home. He invited me over to see his fleet of bicycles. When I got to his house I saw a pretty impressive array of bikes from the '30's up to the late '60's. There were bikes hanging from the roof, bikes leaning everywhere and hardly room to walk through the house. This was maybe 1993-things only got more crowded with bike stuff as the years wore on. For some reason , my host told me that he might have a nice older frame that I could restore in my size. He usually looked for stuff that would fit his 6' frame but I guess in a weak moment he bought the carcass of a 1960 55 cm Girardengo bicycle. For those that don't know cycling history, Constante Girardengo was Italy's first big cycling champion-his time was around 1910-1920. After he retired from racing he licensed out his name to a bicycle company and later to a motorcycle company. The bike my friend had was probably from about 1960 and was in pretty sorry shape as the photo shows. I asked how much he wanted for the frame and he said $ 40.00. I said "great, when can I pick it up ?". This is when the long wait began. My friend said that the frame was buried deep in storage and it might take awhile for him to dig it out.
The years went by and in late 1996 I moved my shop back to the west side ,closer to my house. My friend would stop by periodically, some times on an old bike, some times on a mountain bike that I had put together for him out of parts from a warehouse sale. Every time I saw him I reminded him that I was still interested in the Girardengo. Every time he would tell me that it would take time for him to find it. After a number of years I stopped asking-the decades went by.
When the bike was delivered to my shop, the man- a very close friend of my departed bike hoarder-looked at my shop, heard about the history of my business and told me that he needed help dealing with all the old stuff at my friend's house. It turned out that there was still a lot of older bike frames and parts there. I agreed to help him and he said that I was welcome to take whatever I wanted out of the massive pile of bike parts.
I would continue helping with the estate for a few more weeks but always was thinking of what I would do with the Griardengo-I wanted to honor the memory of my friend and the passion he showed for older bikes. His knowledge of bicycles from 1920-1960 was very deep - I wanted to make the Girardengo ride again with all the correct parts.
In the photos you will see the newly restored Girardengo- not having been ridden for probably a half a century. Now it is rolling with everything as it should be with the exception of some modern rims and a fairly modern seat post. I had to align the frame and fork and was fortunate to find some decals on the internet. As of now, I think I have about 40 miles on it. I imagine that if I had not gotten the frame it would be in the landfill by now.
So it turned out to be very true what my departed friend said- " It might take some time for the frame to get dug out of storage ." While I would much rather have my friend still alive , at least I have this bike and our mutual history to remember him by. Every time I go out on a ride on this bike I thank my friend- In life he provided me with some great bicycle history lessons. In death, he unwittingly made good an a promise of a $ 40 frame that he knew would be a good project for me to take on.
Posted by swiggco world at 1:54 PM